Carlo Bergonzi, one of the 20th century’s most distinguished operatic tenors, renowned for the refined interpretive taste and keen musical intelligence he brought to his art, died on Friday in Milan. He was 90.
His death was confirmed by Stefan Zucker, president of the Bel Canto Society, devoted to the history of opera singing.
Considered the foremost Verdi tenor of his age, Mr. Bergonzi sang more than 300 times with the Metropolitan Opera of New York from the 1950s to the ’80s, appearing opposite a roster of celebrated divas that included Maria Callas, Risë Stevens, Victoria de los Angeles and Leontyne Price.
Among his most famous roles were Radames in Verdi’s “Aida” and Manrico in his “Trovatore”; Cavaradossi in “Tosca,” Pinkerton in “Madama Butterfly” and Rodolfo in “La Bohème,” all by Puccini; Canio in Leoncavallo’s “Pagliacci”; and Nemorino in Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amore.”
A lyric tenor of some vocal heft, Mr. Bergonzi lacked the sonic weight and brilliance of tenors in the Wagnerian mold. But what he did possess was an instrument of velvety beauty and nearly unrivaled subtlety.
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